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Off the beaten track

5 reasons why I love British Columbia

Kelly Ranson August 18, 2016

A visit to British Columbia has been on my wish-list for years. I adore the great outdoors and the appeal of the wilderness, amazing wildlife and city-living of the BC region ticks every box.

I’ve spent way too much time reading the travel guides and pouring over images on Instagram in the hope that one day I might step foot on Canadian soil. 

This year my dream came true. As I flew in and caught my first glance of the country ahead of my adventure to Vancouver and Victoria, I just knew I would love it. There are endless reasons to visit, in fact, it’s been given the royal seal of approval with Prince William and Kate Middleton heading on a Canadian tour. But here are five stand-out points to inspire you to visit British Columbia.

1) It's great for water lovers

Seriously, you cannot visit BC without taking part in a water-based activity. The two main cities, Victoria and Vancouver are situated right on the waterfront, so it would be a crime not to. Canoe and kayak alongside the seal colonies of Granville Island, or travel on a float plane and land with a (small) splash right into Vancouver Harbour. 

2) It's a wonderful wild-life

One thing you’ll find in abundance in British Columbia is wildlife. The sight of two humpback whales - so close to my boat that my camera wasn’t zoomed out enough - will remain with me for a lifetime. Be sure to take a trip from either Victoria or Vancouver. While it’s not guaranteed, you will likely see eagles, otters, seals and of course, the mighty whales. 

Back on dry land, BC is prime bear-watching spot– if you aren’t venturing out into the countryside, take a trip up Grouse Mountain. Not only will you get amazing panoramic shots of Vancouver below, you’ll also see Grinder and Coola, the two orphaned brown bears who have taken up residency on the mountain and spend their days playing and relaxing on the mountain.

3) Canadian culture

British Columbia boasts plenty of museums and art galleries that are perfect for learning about the region’s natural and cultural history. I found it fascinating to learn about the First Nations people, especially through the storytelling and traditional songs that they use to keep their culture alive today. 

If you travel to Victoria, the small suburb of Beacon Hill boasts what was once the world’s tallest totem pole – it stands just shy of 40 metres tall. 

4) It's got a great foodie culture

While many will come to British Columbia for its spectacular scenery, there’s a real movement towards ‘farm to plate’ restaurants, craft distilleries and breweries, positioning the region as a place for serious foodies.

We took an evening foodie tour with Vancouver Food Tour, a great way to discover the culinary scene, which included a stop at a sake making restaurant on Vancouver’s Granville Island, a craft gin and vodka distillery in the hipster area of East Vancouver, and the city’s Vancouver Urban Winery, where all the wines are made from British Columbia vineyards.

5) BC city-living 

While much of BC is about exploring the wilderness, there’s a lot to be said for the cities.  Vancouver is an easy city to love; it has many glamorous hotels and a thriving business district, but it also has wide open spaces such as Stanley Park where locals go for leisure and exercise, set against the dramatic backdrop of Grouse Mountain. Vancouver is also a melting pot of cultures and each neighbourhood has its own charming identity. A personal favourite is Gastown, the city’s oldest neighbourhood. The historic Victorian architecture effortlessly blends vibrant cocktail bars with leading-edge fashion stores. 

British Columbia has wildlife, culture, a thriving foodie scene and great cities, plus some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever encountered. While this was another amazing adventure ticked off my bucket-list, the only regret I have is that I don’t actually live there. Perhaps one day…

If you would like to see more of this breathtaking country then visit our Canada pages for inspiration.